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Indonesian netizens warm to idea of lockdown to contain COVID-19

Jakarta Post - March 31, 2020

Eisya A. Eloksari, Jakarta – A new report shows that netizens in Indonesia are becoming more supportive of the idea to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus with local lockdowns.

Statqo Analytics, a data and analytics consulting firm, collected data through web crawling from March 23 to March 30 that show a significant surge in neutral and positive feedback regarding the possibility of a lockdown.

"Interestingly, there was a tendency from most people to respond negatively toward the lockdown issue in the previous week," the report reads.

"The sentiment has changed in the past few days as people and mass media begin to move to the 'neutral' zone, with the people tending to support lockdown as necessary to contain the COVID-19 pandemic."

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has dismissed the idea to impose a lockdown in Jakarta, the province hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The government would instead opt for stricter regulations on physical distancing, coupled with "civil emergency measures."

Out of the 1,414 coronavirus cases confirmed in Indonesia, 698 cases or 49 percent were recorded in Jakarta. Meanwhile, 74 of 122 nationwide COVID-19 deaths were also recorded in the capital city as of Monday.

As netizens' sentiment on the idea of lockdowns shifted toward positive, their concerns about the supply of staple goods are beginning to turn into negative territory, according to data collected throughout March.

"People's sentiment toward staple needs supply up to the third week of March 2020 remains well. However, in the past few days there has been an uptick in the people's negative sentiment toward staple needs along with a decline in positive sentiment toward staples," the report reads.

Sri Mulyani said on March 19 that Indonesia was not ready to impose a lockdown, as such a measure would disrupt the distribution of basic commodities to rural and densely populated areas.

"The problem lays in the availability of the human resources to deliver basic commodities, not financial resources. How do we deliver the basic commodities to ensure the quarantined population can have access to their basic needs? That's the primary concern," Sri Mulyani said.

The government has prepared measures totaling Rp 158.2 trillion (US$9.77 billion) to finance the healthcare sector and safeguard individuals, workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes Rp 4.6 trillion in cash aid for staple needs for 15.2 million families.

House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani, as well as both government and opposition lawmakers, have demanded the Jokowi administration enforce stricter measures by implementing localized quarantines as stipulated in the 2018 Health Quarantine Law, saying that many people were ignoring the President's call to practice physical distancing.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/31/indonesian-netizens-warm-to-idea-of-lockdown-to-contain-covid-19.html